January 2014 - Instructors Meeting
Instructor's meeting - Sat Jan 4
In attendance: Carol, Dana, Vicki, Amy, Stacy, Charlie, Judy.
---- Next meeting scheduled for Sat Feb 8, 6:30.
We talked about where things are on the new website - Dana was able to get the wi-fi up so we could see the page on the big screen through the projector. Thanks, Dana. Much re-copy/pasting has been done to make it mobile compatible so people can use it from their phones, so the mistakes have increased exponentially. Please let me know if you find any boo-boo's, screwed up dates, anything missing or needing to be re-worded. A few new pages have been added to help people find what they are looking for.
The website will not work on Internet Explorer 8. :-( There is a banner that should show up to tell people with old browsers to upgrade their browser. We are trying to overcome slow loading issues for some people. Frustrations are not over yet, but improving.
Question posed: What is the most unusual dog breed you've had in class?
We have a Lapponian Herder and a POTCAKE coming to classes in January. Always a good idea to do some research so you can understand the breed's characteristics and purpose.
On that same topic, while knowing what a breed's purpose and character traits are is very important, be careful not to make judgemental statements or blanket assumptions based on breed or type. No breed profiling! Behavior is behavior - some tendencies are expressed more strongly than others, but be very careful not to make statements "he's an X breed so .." or "Well, he's a terrier!" as it can be taken wrong. Especially week one when you haven't even met the dogs yet! Better to say, "remember what he is bred to do, it's always harder to work with genetic instincts than against them" rather than "Beagles always sniff" or "Huskies always pull" or, "you can never let your greyhound off leash."
Only good things. When relating stories about other students in other classes or in the past, be sure they are positive stories. Interpret behavior not intent. Stick with objective behavior analysis of what you see or describe in class. Leave out judgements or inferred intent like "he's being a jerk" or "he hates that other dog" and also be sensitive to owner's feelings/perceptions when setting up gates and interrupting unwanted behavior. i.e. "let's help him feel safer so he doesn't feel threatened" etc. Reduce owner embarrassment. Understand that they don't want to have "that dog" in class. They are very focused on their own dog and may think he's the "only dog barking."
Tie a Yellow Ribbon? Discussed possibly having yellow ribbons available so owners can tie a bow on their leashes to remind other owners of dogs in need of space. Amy noted the importance of not making these owners feel like they were singled out, but were helping their dogs. Perhaps orange ribbons to help instructors remember which dogs have food sensitivities. Might not be a bad idea to ask each dog's owners for treats to reward their dogs when working on sit for petting so as not to accidentally give a "sensitive" dog the wrong food.
Short and sweet. Keep talking points to the point. Illustrate to explain, but don't story tell. Complaints have been made about "too much talking" and not enough working. Keep student intros brief with direct questions, don't let the talkers go on and on. Phrase questions to keep them to the point. "How was your week? is too broad. "Any questions about what we covered last week?" is better. Break up discussion, stop 15 minutes early and take questions at the end when dogs are tired and full. More leash work. More going out on the side walk to work. Be mindful of parking lot traffic and other businesses. Make sure collars are snug and leash droppers don't let go. We have the okay to work in the Tune Tech lot when they are closed. But do so sparingly, as there are liability issues if something were to happen off on their property.
Video. Dana said he is looking into the possibility of purchasing a video camera that could be mounted across from the instructor's chair so instructors can record themselves if they'd like, to personally review their teaching skills. Videos would not be up for public viewing or critique.
Classes & Consults. Judy asked for clarification of what some of the classes are about -i.e. Me & My Dog, KCCO. Do visit the class descriptions page and review what is written so you can explain them to your students. If you have questions, ask on the instructor's list so we can all get clarification. KCCO is for hard to focus, hard to settle, frustrated barkers, it is not a social skills class. Dogs who want to eat other dogs should be directed to private lessons. Send serious issues to Cathy. Stacy can do some reactivity and basic skill building/day training. Kim does not want aggresssion cases. (She does do separation anxiety.) As for clients in in-homes who are ready to start in classes, unless they have been in a previous group class with their dog, please direct them to Headstart. In rare cases there may be a situation where a student could skip ahead, but in general, they miss so much by not attending Headstart and their dogs are at a disadvantage by having never been in the classroom with a bunch of other dogs.
We talked about needing a "Reactive Rovers" class ... and the other problem that for awhile all our referrals were problem dogs nobody else wanted to take on.
There's still much more to be done on the schedule. We made a few additions/changes to the flow through June/July and added a KCCO for September. There are still several spots marked "classes to be announced". We are moving the rolling admission Take it on the Road to a different time slot to make it possible for Cathy to do Sat AM/PM time slots - Sunday? May move Tails & Trails to flow with that. Frustrated about finding teaching availability so Amy can teach on top of managing the store and having a life. If we add Sunday AM classes (except for July/Aug) they will be Amy classes plus the Sunday rotation as that is her most available day. Is willing to teach just part of a day (just Headstart and go home). Cathy needs a Take it on the Road assistant. We discussed not putting "part two" extensions of Agility/KCCO/etc on the schedule, as they would only be students continuing from the previous class and we would not be taking additions from the general registrations. May move agility to Saturday afternoons. (Clubs never have them on Sat as those are trial days.) Talked a bit about "for fun" for pet people vs dog fanatics.
We are getting many of referrals from other clubs/APDT trainers who came to Spokane. Vets are recommending students register early as it's "hard to get in" and letting them come earlier. An instructor from LCDTC who came to us for puppy classes because she "wants the best for her dog." Barb Davis at SDTC sent one of her agilty trainers to us this month to learn about clicker training.
Our New Year's Resolution for DITR is to UP OUR GAME. Let's stay the best in Spokane because we are. Come prepared to give each and every class your very best. All personal stuff stops at the door. Every student in every seat our our first priority. Every student is the most important person in the room.
Thanks for all you do, going above and beyond to make DITR a great place to train.